Just for clarity, all of this would have been in a hiss (at most) from Jak. Considering he's attempting a stealth check, Jak certainly would be making an effort to be quiet.
Jak nods at Aerik's comments without pausing his scan of the horizon and sky. "Agreed and agreed."
After a few minutes of hiding, his feet itch to get moving.
I say we not spend more than 5 or 10 minutes hiding. I'm not even sure that's necessary, but I don't want to be incautious. So, unless someone has a better idea (or a reason to hide longer), I'd suggest we head towards the White Barrow after that.. continuing carefully if possible.
my bad. Sorry I wasn't clear. Aerik's stealth roll was for him to immediately start stealthily heading towards the barrow. No reason IMO for us to wait around at all. After he casts remove fear on Marcus, he immediately takes off for the barrow, not bothering to check if anyone follows suit.
Oh, yeah, splitting the party...
Aerik moves from stunted tree to stunted tree as he works his way towards the top of the gorge. The others hesitate for a few minutes, scanning the skies, before following. It is a tall order to remain hidden - made more difficult by their shaking spirits as well as the thinning trees, loose rock, and difficult terrain as they approach the gorge's summit. Still, whatever screamed before must have had no active interest in them... for the shriek does not repeat itself nor does any vile creature descend on them. Beneath the relentless howl of the wind, our heroes often venture glances skyward and towards the higher peaks, certain that they will never hear the beast coming through the din.
Marcus has ten minutes of relative calm protected by the Druid's soothing spell. But as he and the rest of the group approaches the summit of the gorge - an open ridge-line devoid of cover save low jagged rocks - the shakes return in earnest. Here the group catches up with the Druid, who has inched his way onto the ridge-line on his belly to survey the lands beyond, trying to keep his silhouette to a minimum. Those with the fortitude, do likewise.
They see a broad and long v-shaped valley stretching roughly East to West. On this side, it is an open slope of loose rock going approximately halfway down to the valley floor. Below that, stunted trees and small, hardy, highland plants dot the hillside. Those in turn become slightly more lush and are interspersed with more abundant ground covers as they approach the base of the valley. Along the valley floor - and seemingly the source of the valley as well as the clear benefactor of the plants is a modest stream that steams in the frigid air. Rising along the other wall of the valley are more plants and trees - slightly more bountiful than the ones on this side.
If the screaming creature is here, it isn't apparent since there appears to be no obvious animal life moving in the valley. Looking to the far side, and at least 2 miles up the valley, our heroes see what appears to be a massive rock sticking out of the angled valley wall. No plants or the ubiquitous ground cover grows upon its granite-grey face. The idea that it is native stone is quickly dismissed as the unnaturalness of the monument becomes evident. It is a high-humped but almost perfect-sided rectangle - almost like a loaf of bread. At a guess, it is 300' long and possibly as much as 150' wide. It sits amid several stands of gnarled and stunted trees. As the crow flies, it is less than a league (3 miles) away.
Welcome to White Barrow
OK, it is approximately 10:15AM. You've got an open valley. On this side, once you mount the ridge-line, you have no cover until you get at least halfway down into the valley beyond. At that point, there is some low cover. Given the difficulties of the terrain, it will take you an hour + to get to the Barrow itself. You are all still Shaken. Questions and/or actions?
1d20 ⇒ 7
I'm off to visit relatives tomorrow but I'll post as I can.
"This place is too quiet for my tastes! I feel as if death is all around this place and we are the only thing alive in this place for miles around."
Lyrica remains vigilant, keeping an eye out for any lurking creatures.
Perception: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (10) + 3 = 13
Jak follows Aerik's lead, sliding up next to the older man on his belly. His pale blue eyes regard the valley below, searching for anything that might give away a potential threat to the group.
The loose rock directly below us, does it look safely navigable? Or is trying to go straight down an invitation to taking falling + avalanche damage? Any hard-to-see paths down that could be easier to manage if the loose rock is danger? Perception 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (3) + 5 = 8
Jak points to the valley floor, where the stream supports thicker vegetation, "Aerik, are there likely to be any animals we should be wary of in all that?"
As he waits for an answer, his eyes lift up the far slope to regard the Barrow. "Damn that's ominous. Not the kind of place I want to be wandering around after the sun drops."
If headed straight down through the valley seems safe enough (or we don't see a better/safer path), I say we head over. Less time we waste getting there means more time getting through whatever obstacles await inside… and I'd love not to get caught in there after sun-down, if at all possible.
The loose rock is as navigable as the loose rock you've been encountering so far - i.e. it makes for difficult terrain but is not a landslide hazard unless you try to move down it at speed. In which case, you might roll down the hill.
Cutting diagonally across the valley leaves you in the open for a longer period of time but doesn't seem inherently unsafe. Your other option would be to stay below this ridge-line, try to parallel it for a mile or so until you are directly across from the Barrow, and then take the 'shorter route' straight to it. The advantage there is you spend less time exposed in this open valley. But the rough terrain on this side of the ridge-line is likely to make the hike take longer.
I don't think it's possible from your description, but is there a possible path to follow the ridge-line all the way around the valley and come at the Barrow from the top? Or would that path be broken on both ends of the valley? (Logic would dictate that its broken on at least one end where the stream leaves the valley.)
IF that is possible, hwo long does it look like that would take in comparison to cutting diagonally across?
The valley stretches away in both directions quite a ways... following the course carved by the winding river. So upstream, theoretically, there must be a place to cross where you aren't exposed in the long valley and could circle around behind the Barrow - but it would be quite a number of miles. Looking up-valley (through wind and blown snow), you can't see an end to the valley from here.
Time-wise - assuming the cross-over point is just out of your sight-line up valley (and it is likely to be further) you are talking at least 4 or 5 hours of walking to get into position behind the Barrow. In other words, in the best possible scenario, you'd be approaching the Barrow at sundown.
Cool. Just making sure I understand the options.
After considering, Jak sighs, "Much as I don't want to waste time, I don't like being exposed on that slope… at least not with gods-know-what screaming out at us from gods-know-where. I say we head over there and drop directly into the valley to make a straight run across the valley." he looks around at the group, "Unless there's something else I don't know."
"You may not like being exposed on that slope, but I am afraid that I am not making matters any better, Jak. I make so much noise with this armor that most creatures will be able to hear me coming long before I get to them. I will try my best to be quiet, but I am not sure what else I can do. Perhaps the trees in the valley will muffle my sound."
[ooc] Sorry, tried to post yesterday and once again having site problems. [/b]
As for animals, there's some small trails down yonder. There could be wolves or a bear, maybe some elk, but they'd have to be desperate to approach us. I suspect most of the critters around here made scarce after hearing that howl. For my part, I think that thing probably knows we're here. Best to just make straight for the Barrow and get inside, quick as we can.
I'm going with the simple majority opinion to speed things along... Also, facing the Barrow while under the Shaken effects might not be to your liking.
After some hushed debate, our heroes retreat to the backside of the slope and skulk along and below the ridge-line as quietly as possible - a task made considerably easier by the howling winds and whipping snow flurries. After an hour of weaving through the ravines, rocks, and loose shale, they again crawl up to the ridge-line to survey the situation. Coincidentally, the general fear of the screamer finally relents - after plaguing their minds for an hour.
Shaken effect - gone.
The Barrow hunches like a gargoyle almost directly across the valley. As before, it is ringed by stands of trees and nowhere are seen signs of animal life. Having few other choices, the heroes crest the ridge-line and move down into the valley, carefully and as quickly as possible. The loose shale is treacherous but manageable.
Slide-walking down the slope, the wind noticeably eases as you get deeper into the shelter of the valley. And with a certain sense of relief, you cross into the rough trees and highland ground-cover that become more verdant as you approach the steaming, if modest, stream at the valley floor.
Without delay, you ford the stream. Passing over it, you are treated briefly to the sauna-like heat of the steam, and you can feel the hot water through your frozen boots and icy toes. It's a luxury you haven't felt in many days and, despite the dangers, you are almost tempted to stay awhile and enjoy it. Certainly a hot bath in a running stream would be a wondrous relief.
The water is about 90 degrees.
Looking up the far slope to the 'bread-loaf' of the Barrow, more details become clear. It is a level 'structure' built into the slope of the hillside. From a distance, what you took to be a uniform grey is actually a composite of hundreds of different whites, greys, and blacks meeting. For the Barrow is constructed of hundreds if not thousands of stones, carefully and precisely laid together. Some are no bigger than a melon and others must weigh several tons apiece. The creases between the stones are razor thin with virtually no deviation. Despite the different rocks used, the surface of the Barrow appears to be a smooth curve across its length. It is an impressive display of craftsmanship.
The only thing marring the symmetry of the site is a small scattering of broken rocks on the left side of the Barrow, (up valley) possibly the remnants of a door.
Time check: Nearly Noon
:DM rubs his hands together with glee: So, questions or actions, kiddies. Also, gimme preemptive initiative rolls.
Spoiler Alert: The Barrow is occupied. Shhhh... don't tell anyone. :p
I'll be using the marching order you established earlier unless you've got any amendments. From front to back:
Marcus, Lyrica, Ez, Jak, Aerik. Please let me know who is carrying what kind of light.
Preemtive Initiative Roll: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (16) + 3 = 19
I have one light spell available. I can cast it on my armor or something if we have someone to have a light at the front of the party.
Also lady and gents, I my magic stone spell creates three stones and lasts for 30 min. Shall we assume we are going to be attacked relatively quickly, and have me enchant them now, or should I wait? Thoughts?
Marcus closes his eyes for a bit before reluctantly leaving the comfort of the stream. He draws his shield and Beula and speaks in hushed tones:
I can check for an opening when y'all are ready. One of you wizards want to give Beula here a proper glow?
Not sure if this will do anything, but can I use Knowledge (Nature) to determine if the heat of the water is from a natural phenomenon or not?
Init: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (8) + 2 = 10
When everyone is ready, I'll approach the broken rocks on the left side and search for enemies, traps, and an opening. Do you want me to roll it, or do you want to roll secretly? I have +8 perception, +2 additional if this counts as a "natural setting" (technically the barrow is man-made), and +1 to find traps.
forgot to mention, aerik will just hold his sling and then leave his other hand free for spell castage. i noticed jak has the light spell also, so maybe he can hit up Marcus so we can have it at both ends of the party.
also, Aerik will help Marcus try to find traps.
Perception--Aid Another: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (7) + 7 = 14
Not sure if Jak is trying to stay on the down-low with his spell-casting so I'll keep this vague and it may be that Aerik has to cast it if Jak defers...
Beula sheds a comforting light from the spell, as Marcus inspects the left side of the Barrow looking for an entrance, traps, or anything more sinister. His search is quickly rewarded. The stone chunks scattered across the ground are all that remain of a thick stone door previously set mid-way along one of the short 'walls' of the barrow. The gaping hole that used to hold the door is approximately 10' across and rises to a sharp arch some 15' above the ground.
The Ranger steps cautiously around the broken, 3' thick, slabs of hewn stone on his way to the entrance. Beula's light and Marcus' vision don't penetrate far into the darkness of the Barrow, no more than 30'. What he sees is a rough hewn and undulating corridor of dark stones, set together much as the external walls are - narrow gapped. But this work has a cruder finish even as much as it is impressively stacked. The floor, as well, is stone - worn somewhat smooth by long stays in a river, at a guess.
The other thing that draws Marcus' attention is the smell wafting from the Barrow. It stinks of stale air, dust, and decay. Putting that aside, he checks the entrance for any signs of traps - and finds none.
Marcus holds a single finger vertically across his lips, bringing the glowing axe dangerously close to his face, then beckons for the others to follow him by pointing Beula towards the entrance. He inhales a deep breath and steps across the threshold into the barrow.
Stealth, including shield and armor AC penalty 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (18) + 3 = 21
Initiative: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (11) + 1 = 12
Lyrica nods to Marcus and follows carefully (Move to N0), mindfully trying to stay quiet and not give away the element of surprise. As she gets closer to the entrance, she pulls out her scimitar to give herself some courage as thoughts of undead linger in her mind.
Stealth: 1d20 - 4 ⇒ (19) - 4 = 15 (Includes Armor Check penalty).
Initiative 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (3) + 3 = 6
Could Jak instead hand Marcus 'his mother's lucky leather bracelet that bore a simple enchantment'?… which is pretty much just some old bracelet that Jak puts a Light spell on? :D
IF so… Bluff to make them believe the ruse: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (16) + 7 = 23
Jak drops the last of a series of small pebbles into his belt pouch, making sure it's securely shut before quietly following the group through the door.
Stealth 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (7) + 5 = 12.
I wish I was having fun, lol. I'm the stupid one that didn't go to the beach so he could be ready for tomorrow's presentation. Of course I'm also the one who didn't get fired for going to Miami and wasting a significant amount of company money on training they didn't receive....
Inish: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (14) + 3 = 17
Perception: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (2) + 6 = 8
Stealth: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (15) + 3 = 18
Ezekiel keeps the crossbow loaded and level while moving forward, keeping an eye out for any signs of trouble.
Our heroes enter the utterly silent Barrow as quietly as they can. They make only the scuffling noise of footsteps and the infrequent jingle or creak of armor. Strangely their breathing sounds most loud to them. It's almost as if the Barrow recognizes the alien sound and glowers at them. Aerik has barely entered the Barrow when Marcus rounds the first corner and stops short. Silent as they were, Beula's light broadcasts their presence all too well. In the darkness just beyond the axe's glow, shadowy figures move and two sets of glowing red pinpoints - eyes - stare towards the intruders. One of the figures is so hidden in the shadows, it is impossible to make out. But the other is a few steps closer... its presence hidden until now by the curve of the wall. It was a man of some sort once. Now it is a rotting corpse with its putrefying flesh hanging from its bones. What fragment of clothes it had left have fused with the sloughing skin.
ORDER: Aerik, Ez, Fleshies, Lyrica, Marcus, Jak
MAP: The Willing Flesh
OK, game time. As before, the bolded folks are up. I prefer that we go in order to give everyone a chance to be a star and to give you the maximum tactical choices. I've put Aerik and Ez together because Ez's schedule this week may make it easier for him to post when he is free to do so. But otherwise, unless you are going to be out, I'd like you to wait for your turn to come round. It reduces retconning.
Currently, only Marcus can see the upper creature. Everyone else can see the lower one. As a reminder, while they are in the darker but lit areas, they have partial concealment - your shots will have a 20% miss chance. Since the baddies' turn is after Aerik and Ez, it is likely that won't be an issue for the rest of the team. :)
A's HPs: 14|14
E's HPs: 10|10
J's HPs: 10|10
L's HPs: 15|15
M's HPs: 14|14
Perception: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (15) + 0 = 15
1st Level Infusions 1+1/day: xx
Bombs 5/day: xxxxx
Mutagen (Strength): x
Yea, after work I have a work dinner as well, after I leave the hotel it's gonna be awhile before I get back.
Ezekiel takes up his crossbow, gently aims the weapon at the closest creature, waits for an opening in his companions, and squeezes off his shot. A shot that goes wide, missing as the creature moves. "By the gods what are they?"
Crossbow, cover: 1d20 + 3 - 4 ⇒ (5) + 3 - 4 = 4
Damage: 1d8 ⇒ 1
Miss Chance: 1d100 ⇒ 34
Aerik will shoulder past Jak, taking a 5 ft step to O-6
Std Action: Aerik fires at the guy in M-15. I know he has soft cover for sure from my allies, but I can't tell if he has actual cover also. If he does, and those stack, I'd like to instead fire at the one in N-17. That gives me a range penalty of -2, but I assume the FF-ness will at least offset it. I can eat a -4, but not a -8. ;)
Sling Shot vs FF AC: 1d20 + 3 - 4 ⇒ (16) + 3 - 4 = 15
possibly an additional -2 to above roll
Miss Chance: 1d100 ⇒ 83
Damage if Hits: 1d4 + 2 ⇒ (1) + 2 = 3
Move Action: Reload Sling
The only one who has a shot at M15 (the 'upper' baddie) is Marcus. Retasking your Predator Stone...
Aerik side-steps around Jak and sends a stone flying at the shadow-shrouded creature. His stone flies true, striking the fleshy thing in the head. The stone burrows into the sloughing grey skin... and sticks there. The monster barely notices the blow.
The deep twang of Ezekiel's crossbow echoes in the barrow. The quarrel sails wide and is heard rattling off stones somewhere in the darkness beyond.
Next UP... Fleshies
The corpse closest to the Ranger stumbles forward with surprising speed and slams a lumpy, sag-fleshed fist into his chest - leaving a smear of its corrupted skin on him. The blow falls like a ill-struck hammer hit, glancing off but with appreciable force. The stench of decay wafting around the monster is almost worse.
Following more slowly, the other abomination stumbles into the light and shuffles toward our heroes. The hole where the Druid's stone struck is easily seen and weeps a necrotic fluid.
A third set of eyes is seen in the darkness of the barrow... and yet another horrific corpse staggers into the murky half-light cast by the axe.
ORDER: Aerik, Ez, Fleshy, Lyrica, Marcus, Jak
MAP: Barrow Battle (updated)
A's HPs: 14|14
E's HPs: 10|10
J's HPs: 10|10
L's HPs: 15|15
M's HPs: 9|14
HIT: 1d20 + 4 + 2 ⇒ (16) + 4 + 2 = 22 charge
DAM: 1d6 + 4 ⇒ (1) + 4 = 5
The first two beasties are in full light (no concealment), the third has 20%.
Before Jak can even react, realization strikes. "Pull back a step, Marcus! Where you stand is a chokepoint. You and Lyrica can face them one at a time if you choke them there!"
BAsically, if Marcus 5'steps to N.8, Marcus and Lyrica can double-team them as they try to push through one at a time. Aldternately (to avoid having to squeeze) Lyrica can step up and Marcus can step directly backwards.
SR, can I 5ft step to N8? If so, Lyrica could stay where she is and ready action to smack the first fleshy that advances. If a 5ft step to N8 is not possible, Lyrica could move to N8 and do the ready action thing, then I could attack and 5ft move to O8. Is that about right? Lyrica, you good with that?
Sorry for the delay, I was stuck in meetings all afternoon and just got released.
Lyrica, unable to check squeeze it to attack, instead looks at the undead to determine what she can.
Knowledge, Religion: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (12) + 5 = 17